Junkfood Science: A bowl of chocolates

February 10, 2009

A bowl of chocolates

Readers may remember Carrie, who had shared her heartbreaking story two years ago when she found herself surrounded by a workplace wellness program that was so unhealthy for her, she had been forced to resign from her job. Her story was among several shared in “See those frowny faces.” This week, she revisited that difficult time, offering some valuable insights that come with years and healing.

Upon returning to work at a health department, after being treated for anorexia, she found a workplace Biggest Loser contest in progress as part of the company wellness program. As she describes:

Hedging my bets...

…For several months (until I quit in protest), I lived with calories, fat grams and sugar grams labeled on the coffee creamers, having the bowl of chocolates I kept on my desk forcibly removed (by vote, no less! And might I add that I did not get to vote in this Survivor-esque "election"), and as much food/weight chatter going on outside my head as there was inside…

Why won't anyone say how dangerous this is? No one appeared remotely concerned that this man lost too much weight, just that they might lose their bet. Raise your hand if this makes you proud of humanity... I can't tell you how many stories I've heard from men and women with eating disorders whose illness was triggered by a pact to lose weight or eat healthier. Yet dieting and exercise are treated as if they are fail safe and no ill can possibly come from a group of people trying to see who can lose the most weight. People on pro-anorexia sites do this, and people judge these "silly girls" who are no different from anyone else. It's not healthy, period.

“It makes life easier if everyone around you is cutting calories, and the amicable competition keeps people driven. You are less likely to eat bad things from the candy jar,” says nutritionist Joy Bauer.

Yeah, except if you're the person who realizes that dieting is a) futile, b) stupid, and c) not likely to increase your health in the long run and then you realize you are completely shut out of this. To me, that was the worst part of the workplace diet bonanza: I had nothing to discuss with my co-workers. All they would talk about was food, weight, and exercise, and I couldn't or wouldn't participate. I was totally isolated and desperately lonely in a time when I really needed the support…

Her full article is here.

Have you ever tried filling a jar with M&Ms at work? It’s an unmistakable sound guaranteed to bring cubbie mates from all over the room to your office with smiles on their faces. That’s a sign of a healthy, friendly workplace. You know it for sure, when you discover the boss has the biggest bowl of chocolates in the entire company sitting on her desk! :)

Hopefully, Carrie has found a safe new job where her bowl of chocolates is shared among friends, rather than confiscated in the name of “health.”

Bookmark and Share